Miami, April 30, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today renewed its calls for Nicaraguan authorities to immediately released detained journalists Lucía Pineda and Miguel Mora. Their trial, which was scheduled to begin yesterday, was instead postponed without a new date set, according to local news reports, here and here.
Mora and Pineda, journalists at the independent cable and digital channel 100% Noticias, have been held in pre-trial detention on charges of “inciting violence and hate” and “promoting terrorism” since their arrests during a police raid on their Managua newsroom on December 21, 2018, as CPJ reported at the time.
“Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda remain in prison on absurd charges and without any trial date, which confirms what we have known from the start: their detention is arbitrary and political,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “There has never been a valid reason for Nicaraguan authorities to detain Lucía and Miguel, and they should be released immediately.”
Julio Montenegro, the journalists’ lawyer, told CPJ via phone that this is the third time the trial has been delayed, but it is the first time that the court has not rescheduled it.
Everyday, the team of The Crowd Versus works on improving social justice all over the world. We have different roles, backgrounds, and day jobs. We share a clear mission: to hold irresponsible companies accountable for their actions on the legal playing field.
Today we would like you to meet Marco Witschge.
Entrepreneur and Co-Founder
Marco Witschge is an entrepreneur, a policy maker and negotiator, a team builder, and a specialist in multi-stakeholder processes.
As the co-founder of The Crowd Versus Foundation, Marco started a crowdfunding platform to defend human and environmental rights in court.
I strongly believe in win-win collaboration to create a better and more sustainable world, but unfortunately sometimes our fundamental rights need legal defense against irresponsible multinationals or governments.
We started The Crowd Versus to support the many brave ‘David’ activists out there in their legal battle against these powerful ‘Goliaths’.
Launched the company Fit Our Future, to accelerate energy efficiency in SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises; representing 99% of the European business sector) and the nonprofit sector.
Launched TheCrowdVersus.org to defend human and environmental rights;
STORMS DURING MINISTER MANTASHE’S WHIRLWIND TOUR OF KZN & XOLOBENI
By Sheila Berry
Minister Mantashe’s whirlwind three day roadshow to major mining hotspots in KZN and the Eastern Cape last weekend has understandably focussed on the arrest of human rights attorney Richard Spoor and the tear gassing and use of stun grenades against protesting Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) members in Xolobeni, on Sunday 22nd September.
However, it is important to place on record that the minister’s visits to the two communities in Northern KZN bordering the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park (HiP) were also not without incident, though not as dramatic as the scenes from Xolobeni.
These visits dashed the hopes of many for open, honest and even-handed engagement with minister Mantashe. Like his predecessors, he has been brazenly pro mining, and it was clearly a tactic on this tour to block genuine voices of communities impacted by mining. It has left many people dissatisfied that meaningful consultation with directly affected communities and the minister is possible.
On Friday, 21st September, the minister spent five hours meeting with Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) and left the expectant KwaMlaba/Ukhukho community members waiting for hours for their chance to speak to Mantashe – an opportunity denied to them. Instead, when the minister eventually emerged from the mine, he and various other pro-mining speakers spent the next forty minutes praising ZAC, a mine with a long history of ignoring legislation, worker unrest, strikes, violence, and community dissatisfaction and complaints that go unheard.
In 2015, ZAC was exposed for illegally opening three new pits without the necessary environmental authorisations, and was found guilty of contravening the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and non-compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations, and was temporarily closed in June 2014. Concerns about acid drainage and contamination of water sources that feed HiP were also raised that have yet to be satisfactorily addressed.
Last year, two activists were murdered: one was shot by a driving contractor for ZAC and another man was beaten to death by two policemen from Pinetown, 250kms away! To date, no arrests have been made though the identity of the murderers is known.
The Ukhukho community has also strongly objected to a depot for mine waste set up in their community and opened with great fanfare by King Zwelethini two years ago. Even more significant was the closure of ZAC by Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) officials on Monday, 16th September, the week of the minister’s visit. It had not operated all that week yet not one word was said about this. The mine resumed operations the Monday after the minister’s visit, on 24th September.
Without giving the aggrieved community a chance to say one word, the minister announced that it was getting late and he needed to leave. He and his entourage climbed into their vehicles and drove off leaving behind stunned and deeply disappointed community members. One should not be surprised or blame the frustrated community if there is an escalation in the burning of coal trucks, strikes and picketing that has become the hallmark of ZAC’s operations.
On Saturday, 22nd September, the minister repeated the same process at Somkhele on the eastern side of HiP, near the main entrance to the Park. He spent three hours inside Tendele mine, engaging with mine management, trade union members and workers. Again, when he eventually met with the long-suffering community, there were the usual speeches of praise – this time about Tendele mine and the CEO, Jan du Preez, for the good work and benefits they bring to the community. No mention was made of the recent High Court application against Tendele by the community organisation MCEJO and GET for the mine’s lack of compliance and other complaints [Links here and here].
After the speeches, the minister walked out without giving the Somkhele/Mpukunyoni community an opportunity to speak. With one voice the tent erupted.
Since 2004, directly affected community members have tried without success to engage with the various ministers and the Department of Mineral Resources of South Africa. On Saturday, when they saw the door being shut in their faces again with all the attempts that were made to make sure community members were not given a chance to express their collective pain, they rose up and said No! Minister Mantashe come back. We demand to have an opportunity to present our issues and be heard by you. This surely would not have happened if the minister had had his way and another expensive opportunity would have been missed by the government of hearing evidence that rectifies the distorted one-dimensional engagements that typify DMR’s modus operandi. It is apparent that minister Mantashe and his department had all the intentions of sabotaging their own visit.
Mantashe was forced to return and appease the angry gathering and had to give the floor to the community. He allowed only seven speakers who criticised the mine and repeatedly called for justice to be served and for the law to be be applied. Affected community members, who have lost their sources of income and have had their lives and health destroyed by living in close proximity to the mine, spoke openly about their suffering. All the stories were about how Tendele is impacting on people’s human rights and the negative impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the greater Mpukunyoni area. A 56 year old Mr Ndlovu, broke down and wept as he narrated how, after being removed from his home, he struggled to lay daily bread on the table for his children. More testimonies followed as the community spoke of their suffering and poverty resulting from mining in the area that takes away and pollutes their land and water. One woman had with her, a bottled sample of polluted water from her tank at home.
Not one person spoke in favour of the mine or mentioned anything positive about Tendele.
The impacts of the mine also threaten the HiP, KZN’s flagship tourist attraction, established 110 years ago as a sanctuary for the last remaining pocket of Southern White rhino on the African continent, and providing thousands more sustainable jobs than the coal mine right on the Park’s boundary that the minister has allowed to expand by a massive 222km2 for the next 30 years until 2046. This despite the SA signing international protocols and treaties committing the country to decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, particularly coal. The reality is that in 2015, the coal mining sector, arguably the most environmentally damaging mining activity, accounted for about 0.5% of the national workforce. With the technical developments rapidly being favoured by the mining industry, like self-drive vehicles, and robots for security, the number of jobs currently filled by local community members is likely to decrease dramatically.
By the end of the input from the community that included handing over memoranda (view PDF – Zulu) prepared by two community organisations, MCEJO and Mpukunyoni Community Property Association (MCPA), the minister promised that DMR would assemble a task team to address the issues raised by the community. Its first meeting(s) will be held on Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd October 2018 at the Protea Hotel, an unfortunate venue choice. Before its conversion into a 3-star hotel, it was used by the apartheid regime as a place to torture and murder so-called “enemies of the state”.
From Somkhele, the minister and his department travelled to the much publicised violent visit in Xolobeni. When Richard Spoor appeared in court last week he was charged with assault of a policeman, refusing a lawful order, and incitement to public violence. The case was remanded until 25 October.
Meanwhile the government is still to deal appropriately with the Marikana massacre and to prioritise the arrest of the two men, posing as policemen, who murdered Sikhosipi Bazooka Radebe, a leading activist in Xolobeni, who was shot seven times in the head in front of his 15 year old son. This happened more than two years ago. There are several other deaths of anti-mining activists nationwide fighting for justice that remain unsolved and numerous anti-mining activists across the country continue to be subjected to intimidation, violence, damage to property, and their lives threatened.
One thing that became clear during the minister’s tour is how effective mining is at splitting communities into a few beneficiaries who are decision makers on one side and the masses who are left with nothing on the other side.
Stand with Indigenous Peoples: donate, organize an event, or set up an online fundraiser
Indigenous Nations are on a winning streak in the Canadian country’s courts. We’ve stopped pipelines, pushed back against open pit mining and built an unprecedented alliance that is igniting all across the country.
Now it’s time to tackle climate destruction at the source: Canada’s dirty tar sands.
At the heart of the largest industrial project on Earth, a tiny Nation who’ve lost 90% of their territory to oil and gas development are saying, “Enough.” From tar sands ground zero, the Beaver Lake Cree are waging a monumental tar sands lawsuit against Canada and Alberta to force them to honour treaty rights and push back against tar sands development on their territory.
The lawsuit is the first ever to challenge the cumulative impacts of industrial development. Not one project, not one mine: all of them at once.
Indigenous legal challenges are behind the biggest progressive wins in this country. Cases supported by RAVEN halted the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline. Our Pull Together campaign killed the Enbridge pipeline. From these victories has sprung a movement of people like you, who are strategic, focussed, and 100% committed to level the playing field so that Indigenous Nations can stand toe-to-toe with industry and government in the courts.
It’s a defining moment: will we allow the ideologues who are seizing power to distort our democracy to serve Big Oil’s agenda? Or will we rise together to realize the vision of a fair country, where the caretaker values of Indigenous Peoples become integral to solving the climate crisis?
The Tar Sands Trial aims to force limits on an industry that has been allowed to violate the treaties at every turn, and wreak havoc on the health of ecosystems and local communities. We need leaders like you to build this unprecedented alliance that is growing across the country because — when we join forces — we’re unstoppable.
Stand with Indigenous Peoples: donate, organize an event, or set up an online fundraiser. We’ve got just under 10 weeks before the Beaver Lake Cree go to court, and we need $100,000. Are you in?
Ayendri, Brendan, Ana, Andrea and the rest of the RAVEN team
P.S. People who stepped up to organize events and host online fundraisers were the magic that helped us to stop Enbridge and Kinder Morgan. Now, we’re unleashing the power of the crowd to stop tar sands at the source. Take it to the next level by hosting an event or setting up an online fundraiser.
The people who subscribe to this letter are women and men belonging to peoples, communities, social and collective organizations who work every day to defend human and and nature rights.
On 7 September 2018, the August 30 the arbitral award, issued by an international arbitration tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was published.This Court was constituted under the auspices of the Treaty on the Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments adopted between the United States and Ecuador in 1993 and denounced by Ecuador in 2017.
The Court ruled in this award in favour of the transnational corporation Chevron and its subsidiary Texaco, stating that Ecuador, in particular its judiciary, had breached various obligations under the investment agreement. In the arbitrators’ opinion, this violation is the result of the judgment issued against the oil company in 2011, condemning it to pay nine thousand five hundred million dollars for crimes against Human and Nature Rights caused by Texaco’s operations for more than 20 years in the Amazon. According to the arbitrators, this decision, which upheld a wide range of plaintiffs from indigenous communities and peoples affected by toxic waste, was obtained through fraud and corruption. With this argumentation, the arbitrators have woven a veil of impunity at the size of the oil company, which not only allows this transnational company not to comply with the judgment and not to compensate the thousands of victims, but also to obtain a huge amount of Ecuadorian public funds as compensation.
This decision is further proof of the legal impunity that trade and investment treaties grant to transnational corporations, allowing them not only to violate Human and Nature Rights without paying the consequences, but also to act against the monetary resources of sovereign states, constrained by the force of these treaties which, even when denounced, eventually prevail over human rights.
The signatories of this letter wish to express their rejection of this decision and their support for the people of Ecuador and the organizations that have defended the communities affected by Chevron Texaco, as well as their deep concern at the signals that have been sent to the Ecuadorian government regarding the Chevron case and its impact on the primacy of Human and Nature rights.
It is important to recall that Ecuador made history by including article 422 in the 2008 Constitution, which prohibits the transfer of sovereign jurisdiction to international arbitration bodies in contractual or commercial disputes between the State and private natural or legal persons. In the same vein, Ecuador has launched a major campaign to denounce crimes against nature committed by oil companies, in which world-renowned personalities have participated, supporting more than 30,000 people affected by Texaco’s toxic waste. Ecuador also promotes and supports the United Nations binding treaty process and chairs the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working group on Transnational Corporations (TNC’s) and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights whose mandate is to develop a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other corporations under international human rights law.
All these initiatives have received international recognition from thousands of human rights and environmental organizations and networks, who,dismayed and deeply concerned, are now looking to Ecuador and Lenin Moreno’s government.
Instead of defending its judicial system and the application of the right of access to justice in the country, as well as constitutional principles concerning investment treaties and the rights of affected communities and individuals, the Government of Ecuador issued a statement on 6 September in which it announced, already knowing the content of the arbitral award, which is still unknown to the public, that it would request the Attorney General to transfer any damage caused to the State in this case to representatives of the government of former President Rafael Correa. However, it should be noted that since Lenin Moreno’s government took office, he has indicated through various officials that he will seek “dialogue with Chevron”, as announced in September 2017 by Foreign Trade Minister Pablo Campana. Attention should be drawn to the fact that officials of the current government of Ecuador, such as Foreign Minister José Valencia, have spoken out publicly against Chevron’s violations in Ecuador. Therefore, have these current Ecuadorian government officials manipulated public opinion?
These are not the first setbacks of Lenin Moreno’s government, whose Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva published in June a draft binding treaty on business and human rights, with insufficient, inaccurate and deliberately undemanding content concerning corporate responsibility in human rights, which turns its back on four years of work on the international scene and wastes the efforts of global civil society to consolidate synergies on the international scene.
Concern about the drift of Lenin Moreno’s current government, which is turning its back on human rights and the well-being of the majority of the population, is increasing day by day, so the signatories have decided to take action to defend our colleagues affected by Chevron Texaco. In this regard, we call on the Ecuadorian Government to make transparent all information on the defence of the interests of the Ecuadorian State and the Ecuadorian people, on all dialogues held with Chevron. Similarly, we ask for an explanation of what its line of action will be to defend the rights of victims of transnationals in this case and as far as possible, as well as for the rectification of the line provided by its permanent mission in Geneva regarding the draft treaty presented behind the backs of civil society and those affected and affected by transnationals.
Our organizations fight against violations of these rights by transnational corporations, defend those affected, strive to end impunity for these companies and strive to achieve the full primacy of Human and Nature rights over policies to promote trade and attract investment. Ecuador has been an ally in many of these struggles, we hope that Lenin Moreno’s government will return to the path of defending Human and Nature rights against the power of transnational corporations.
Please spread this letter within your networks and contacts, we are seeking to increase the support of individuals or organizations wishing to show solidarity with those affected by Texaco.
If you would like to support this action with your organization or personally, send an email with your full name at: email@example.com
LAST DELAY: Monday 10 September at 3 pm Europa (8 am Ecuador).
Notice: The Somkhele and Fuleni communities neighbouring the Hluluwe iMfolozi Park unite on 24th August 2018 at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in their resistance against the ongoing illegal mining by Tendele Coal Mining (PTY) LTD and its proposed expansion.
PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: In an application to be heard in the high court in Pietermaritzburg, evidence will be tabled before Judge Seegobin of how, since 2017, the mine has been violating the National Environmental Management Act by breaching environmental and other laws. The mining company operates illegally next to arguably the most sensitive area in South Africa, with the largest population of rhinos in the world.
Tendele’s human rights abuses and negative impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the greater Mpukunyoni area, where Somkhele is situated, will be tabled in various reports, including the South African Human Rights Commission’s recently released report on hearings with mining affected communities that include Somkhele. Meanwhile, Tendele plans to expand its operation and has identified 124 households to be moved from their rightful land. Many more families will lose their livelihoods and have their lives and health destroyed by living in close proximity to the mine.
“Furthermore, environmental degradation, and the failure to conserve biodiversity, prejudice the realisation of numerous other human rights, particularly the right to equality, but also the rights of access to sufficient food and water, health, housing, land and ultimately, the right to live with dignity.” [Extract from SAHRC report, p.41]
The application is brought forward by The Global Environment Trust (GET) and members of Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organization (MCEJO) who believe #LawApplies2All. The applicants seek that the court interdicts and restrains Tendele Mining company from carrying on any mining operation in the area until it has complied with the law.
Kirsten Youens, attorney for the applicants sums it up by saying: “We are relying on our judicial system to ensure that justice is done. The law must be complied with by all, not a select few. This is an opportunity for a clear statement to be made that it is unacceptable for mining companies to comply with the law after they have already commenced mining and only when ordered to do so. The environment and thousands of people’s lives are at stake.”
For the latest on this case see the following links:
Applicants: 1.Molozi Community Environmental Justice Organization (MCEJO)
2. Global Environmental Trust (GET)
3. Sabelo Dladla
Main Respondent (See Court Application for 8 others, none of which will address the court):
Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd
Place: Pietermaritzburg High Court (Pietermaritzburg CBD)
Date: 9h30 sharp on 24 August 2018
Kirsten Youens, Legal advisor for GET and MCEJO – 0612266868
Sabelo Dladla, MCEJO, Second Applicant – 0834647671
Sheila Berry, Spokesperson for the Global Environmental Trust – 082 295 7328
Below is a summary of the court case scheduled for 24 August 2018.
A list of relevant court papers and documents are provided below with links to download or view.
The parties bringing the application are:
Global Environmental Trust
Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation
The application is brought against:
Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd – opposed
Minister of Minerals and Energy – no response
MEC: Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs – no response
Minister of Environmental Affairs – no response
Mtubatuba Municipality – no response
Hlabisa Municipality – watching brief
Ingonyama Trust – opposed but didn’t file affidavits in time
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – will abide by the decision of the court
AMAFA aKwaZulu-u-Natali Heritage Council – no response
Amicus Curae Applicants who submitted papers in terms of Rule 16(A) on 20 July 2018 are:
Mpukunyoni Traditional Council and Mpukunyoni Traditional Authority
The 30 Izinduna of the 30 Isigodi of the Mpukunyoni Area
Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum
Association of Mine Workers and Constructions Union and National Union of Mine Workers
Tendele is acting illegally in conducting the mining in that it has no Environmental Authorization issued in terms of Section 24 of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (“NEMA“) or any equivalent thereof such as Section 38 A of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA) as amended.
Tendele is conducting the mining without any land use authority or approval from any Municipality and has no written approval in terms of Section 35 of the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act 4 of 2008 to remove or alter traditional graves from their original position.
Tendele also has no waste management licence issued by the Minister of Environmental Affairs (Fourth Respondent) in terms of Section 43 (1) or the Minister of Minerals and Energy (Second Respondent) in terms of Section 43 (1A) of the National Environmental Management : Waste Act 9 of 2008 (“the Waste Act”) despite requiring a licence as a result of its activities.
Such non-compliance has resulted in Tendele carrying on its mining operations illegally with the result that the residents in the area of Reserve 3 are suffering irreparable harm. This includes the Third Applicant.
1.6 A tranquil rural environment adjacent to a provincial game reserve has been destroyed and polluted by dust and noise. Homes have been removed or destroyed and the environment and the amenity of all who live there and the public at large has been destroyed and continues to be destroyed day by day. The wilderness has been turned into a vast industrial rock dump. Massive blasting takes place and the quality of life is being destroyed.
1.7 The family of Third Applicant has taken the matter up with Mineral Resources, the Centre for Environmental Rights, the Public Protector and the Mpukonyoni Traditional Administrative centre. Applicants have also appealed against the grant of the latest Mining Right. This appeal was rejected.
1.8 Applicants seek the interdict to ensure that Tendele is fully compliant with the law.
The Applicants seek the following order :-
1. THAT First Respondent be and is interdicted and restrained from carrying on any mining operations at the following sites: –
1.1 Area 1 on Reserve No. 3 (Somkele) No 15822 measuring 660.5321 hectares as described in the Mining Right dated 22nd June 2007;
1.2 Areas 2 and 3 on Reserve No. 3 (Somkele) No.15822 measuring 779.8719 hectares as described in the Mining Right dated 30th March 2011;
1.3 Areas of KwaQubuka and Luhlanga areas on Reserve No. 3 No. 15822 measuring 706.0166 hectares as described in the Amendment of a Mining Right dated 8th March 2013;
1.4 One part of the Remainder of Reserve No. 3 No. 15822 in extent 21233.0525 hectares described in the Mining Right dated 26th October 2016;
Until further order of this Honourable Court.
2. THAT First Respondent pay the costs of this application together jointly and severally, with any other Respondent who opposes this application.
3. THAT Applicants be granted further and/or alternative relief.”
As an alternative the above Honourable Court may elect to grant a structured interdict. The Judge has requested that we provide an alternative to him by 22 August 2018.
The interdict being sought by Applicants is semi-temporary in that it is sought “until further order of this Honourable Court.” If Tendele complies with its legal obligations and establishes that it has done so, the interdict may be lifted.
The Amicus Application
Applicant’s case is based on our rights under Section 24 of the Constitution 1996, coupled with the non-compliance with the law by First Respondent under the environmental legislation and notices, mining law, land use law and the legislation which protects graves. These are largely legal issues.
The Amici hardly address these issues. They are more concerned with their own self-interest and the benefits to them that the mining brings, whether it is legal or not.
The Applicants wish to have these irrelevant facts Struck out. Not only are they irrelevant to the issues Applicant brings before the Court but there is no time to deal with these issues at this stage of proceedings.
In the event that any part of the mass of facts put forward are considered in the interests of justice to be relevant and important, we submit details:
Second Applicant has presently 2503 members. There are new members who are being processed from lists received recently, and more joining every day. This is because of the increased interest by the affected communities as the Court Hearing approaches. These members have an average of 10 dependants each. The numbers of people opposed to the mining and the unlawful activities of First Respondent are therefore at least 25 000 people;
The Actionaid Social Audit Report compiled by Sifiso Dladla;
A Pscyho-social Impact Assessment by Michael R. Edelstein PhD, Professor of Environmental Psychology, Environmental and Studies Programs at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
This is an important victory for the UDAPT. Ecuador’s Constitutional Court rejects the protection action requested by Chevron.
Following Chevron’s application to Ecuadorian courts to have the 2013 sentence that condemned this entity set aside, the Constitutional Court reaffirmed Chevron’s responsibility for environmental crimes in Ecuador’s Amazon.
An important victory for the Union of the communities affected by the oil operations of Texaco (now Chevron) (UDAPT), a long-standing partner of CETIM, which continues its fight for access to justice and against the impunity of transnational corporations.
La Corte Constitucional (CC) rechazó este martes el recurso de acción de protección interpuesto por la transnacional Chevron a la sentencia que pesaba en su contra por daños ambientales ocasionados en la Amazonía ecuatoriana durante el tempo que operó en la región.
“Hemos ganado definitivamente esta batalla jurídica en las cortes ecuatorianas, es un triunfo del país, es un triunfo del mundo entero de todos los colectivos que luchamos por un ambiente sano”, dijo Pablo Fajardo, abogado de los demandantes.
La resolución fue notificada a los casilleros judiciales a las 15:30 del martes, confirmó Fajardo.
Chevron había presentado una acción de protección pidiendo a los jueces de la CC que revoquen las sentencias de primera y segunda instancia emitidas por la Corte Provincial de Justicia de Sucumbíos y por la Corte Nacional de Justicia, que condenaron a pagar una indemnización de 9.500 millones de dólares por daños ambientales.
“Esta batalla no termina aquí, nos queda seguir batallando en las cortes canadienses donde seguimos la demanda para que Chevron pague la sentencia”, agregó Fajardo.
El jurista dijo que este miércoles se ofrecerán más detalles de la resolución emitida por la CC. (I)
ECUADOR CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HAS DENIED THE PROTECTIVE EXTRAORDINARY ACTION REQUESTED BY CHEVRON CORPORATED.
The Constitutional Court of Ecuador has notified the parties of the decision to deny Chevron’s request for protection. This action was aimed at avoiding the payment of the sentence imposed by the Ecuadorian Courts of Justice, and thus evading his legal responsibility for the repair of the contaminated areas.
Yesterday afternoon, by means of a notification sent to the lawyers of the parties, the Constitutional Court officially announced the decision of the plenary session held on 27 June 2018 of this year, which denied the extraordinary action for protection. With this resolution, all the resources available in Ecuador within this judicial process are completed.
In an extensive 151-page document, the Constitutional Court details all the arguments that lead it to “Declare that there is no violation of constitutional rights”; and to, “Deny the extraordinary action for protection brought” by Chevron Corporation, in which it claims that its constitutional rights were violated.
This ruling is a great step towards access to justice, said Willian Lucitante, Executive Coordinator of the Union of People Affected by Texaco (UDAPT), an organization that protects more than 30,000 affected people, and has taken this case to all possible courts.
“After 25 years of struggle, we can finally close this chapter. We are taking firm steps to get justice,” said the UDAPT leader.
According to Lucitante, Chevron now cannot continue to deceive in other jurisdictions where it maintains that the sentence is not enforceable because the trial has not ended in Ecuador. This serves to request that the processes of recognition and execution of the sentence be halted and that the judicial obligation not be made effective, the debt be collected and repairs be carried out on more than 480,000 hectares of rainforest that until now have contained hundreds of toxic substances left by the oil company.
Donald Moncayo, UDAPT’s subordinate and representative of the settler communities affected by the contamination, stressed that it is not just a triumph of the organization, but of hundreds of organizations and millions of citizens around the world who fight to defend life and access justice. He stressed that these twenty-five years have been a time of learning, both for those affected and for thousands of social struggles, which have taken this case as an example to unravel the structures of impunity that shelter transnational corporations and allow them to violate the human rights of the communities where they operate.
Moncayo stated further that: this case not only affects Chevron, but it sets a precedent for prosecuting corporations, which generally commit environmental crimes and crimes against human beings by use of the complicity of the States. It is a victory over the system of corporate injustice and impunity that operates across the globe.
Pablo Fajardo, Common Attorney General of the affected people, stressed that in Ecuador, the judges of the three judicial instances and the magistrates of the Constitutional Court, “fulfilled their duty”, in spite of the immense pressures they experienced. On behalf of the country, Fajardo thanked those judges who did not succumb to blackmail and bribery attempts, which is a common practice of the transnationals, as evidenced in multiple cases that were reported in a timely manner during the course of more than two decades of this trial.
Fajardo recognized that this is not only a triumph for UDAPT or those affected, but is a triumph for all the peoples of the world who fight for access to justice, for a dignified life and for respect for human rights in the face of corporate crimes. “We have not only defeated Chevron, we have defeated the corporate impunity system in Ecuador”.
He stressed that the Ecuadorian judicial system has been the only one in the world that has known and dealt with the Chevron case in depth. On the basis of sufficient evidence and legal arguments, he has proved those affected to be right in both judicial instances, in the National Court of Justice and now in the Constitutional Court. The “crime committed by the oil company is therefore obvious and proven, and we can no longer talk about alleged damage, let alone fraud”.
Finally, those affected were satisfied with both the ruling and the overall precedent they have set. It was unthinkable, said Willian Lucitante the Coordinator of the UDAPT, that a group of 30,000 indigenous and poor peasant farmers would confront one of the most powerful corporations in the world, “now we have shown that it is possible”, that the power of money has its limits when faced with the dignity of the peoples. He said, the fight is not over and they will continue to litigate in foreign courts, such as Canada’s, to validate the ruling.
No one is above the law. A call to action from the Ecuadorian Indigenous people to support their fight against corporate impunity.
Ecuadorian indigenous people were ordered to pay 350.000 Canadian dollars if they want to file an appeal before the Canadian Supreme Court. The Amazonians want to enforce an Ecuadorian judgment ordering Chevron to repair one of the greatest environmental pollution case in the world – caused by deliberate and negligent operation of oil fields.
The people affected by the pollution (UDAPT) call for changes in the laws, and thus the behaviors, that sustain the structure of corporate impunity worldwide. These financial challenges allow companies like Chevron to continue to pose a threat to the environment and the survival of people on our planet.
The Ecuadorian National Court ordered Chevron to pay more than 9,5 million dollars to repair their lands and rivers, which were seriously poisoned because of Chevron’s deliberate deployment of obsolete methods. However, this company withdrew all its assets from Ecuador. The indigenous communities were forced to seek justice in other countries: Argentina, Brazil, and Canada.
The Canadian Supreme Court previously recognized this lawsuit as a public interest litigation. But the judges of the Ontario lower court declared that “[t]here is a difference between economic reality and legal reality”, so the laws in force should not be modified. If the laws are changed, the Ecuadorian lawsuit could affect Canadian companies and force them to respect human rights above their business interests.
This trial has provoked a long debate among the members of the Canadian bar. The appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada would be the scenario in which the judges define whether they will adopt an innovative approach with respect to corporate responsibility, justice and equity, or will continue with the application of the current laws in favor of giant multinationals’ impunity.
During the past years, UDAPT has joined international efforts along with hundreds of nonprofits that stand for human rights, specifically aiming for the creation of a binding international instrument on transnational corporations and human rights. The emblematic battle of the Ecuadorians against Chevron has unveiled the structure of impunity that allows transnational corporations to get away with gross human rights’ violations and environmental damage.
Ecuadorian communities consider the Supreme Court of Canada to be reliable. The access to that Court is economically conditioned, since the Court of Ontario has ordered that the Ecuadorian victims pay 350,000 Canadian dollars by the first week in July if they wish to appeal the decision preventing financial justice. For the indigenous people and farmers who live in the Amazon and have no funds, collecting this amount represents a real challenge.
If they fail, impunity shall prevail.
On the other hand, their victory could represent an important advance for indigenous populations who are victims of human rights and environmental violations throughout the world. For this reason, a global campaign has begun to collect 350,000 Canadian dollars. This is the opportunity to break the siege that prevents the people of the world from claiming their human rights to multinational corporations.
That could change the history of global corporate impunity.
The trial against Chevron is promoted by more than 30,000 peasants and people from 6 different indigenous nationalities organized in the UDAPT (Union of the People Affected by Texaco).